In Category Five, Nowhere magazine editor Porter Fox describes how climate change is making storms more intense.

How did you balance climate science and narrative storytelling?

The key to narrative nonfiction is alternating between narrative and reporting in a steady, proportionate rhythm.
This mechanism keeps the reader from getting mired down in facts. Readers always know that a digression into character, history, memoir, or science will soon return to the primary thread.

You note that storms are developing faster and growing stronger than ever. What do you say to people who doubt this is real?

We no longer have to speculate about climate change and amplifying weather. We can see it. Last year saw more billion-dollar weather disasters in the U.S. than any year on record, including a series of atmospheric rivers that dumped 30 trillion gallons of water on California on the heels of a yearslong megadrought. More category four and five hurricanes hit the U.S. mainland between 2017 and 2021 than between 1963 and 2016. Since the 1970s, the likelihood of a hurricane developing into a category three storm or higher increased by 8% per decade. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted the most active and potentially destructive hurricane season in history.

Hurricane season keeps getting longer, now running from May through January. Where do you see this ending?

It will not end until we stop burning fossil fuels. The effects of climate change will progressively get worse. Typhoon season in the Pacific now lasts all year long. Hurricane season will expand similarly. Hurricanes are also predicted to last longer, rapidly intensify more frequently, and carry stronger winds and higher storm surges, ranging as far north as Boston, Maine, and Canada and penetrating as far inland as New Mexico, Kansas, and Wisconsin. Storms enhanced by the climate crisis carry vastly more precipitation and can dump up to 40 inches of rain in a day, as Hurricane Harvey did in 2017. One example of how the compounding forces of climate change are overwhelming coastlines: if Superstorm Sandy had occurred in 1912 instead of 2012, it would likely not have flooded lower Manhattan.

What message do you have for policymakers?

If we can reach net zero emissions, additional warming and effects of the climate crisis will level off almost immediately. Storms will stop intensifying, and global surface temperatures will stop rising. Greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere would continue to insulate Earth as they do today, but the upward-arcing curve of warming would flatten almost immediately. If CO2 could be naturally or mechanically filtered out and sequestered, then storms, freak weather, and warming would fall with it.